November 1, 2005
I had to fast this morning, so no coffee or food until after my doctor’s appointment at 7:30. Had a blood test and an electrocardiogram. Got into the office at about 7:50, Mark Boardman, George Laibe, Robert Ray and Sue Lambert were already hard at it. That was pleasant for a payroll paying employer to see.
Drove down into the beast at 11:30 to have lunch with Abe Hays. We met at The Town Tavern, a big, clubby, dark wood restaurant at Scottsdale and Doubletree (he bought). I signed 30 of my books for his store and Abe educated me on why Scottsdale can’t land a Western art museum (they’ve blundered four different times, including once with the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody). Abe owns an incredible collection of paintings by Western masters including Maynard Dixon, Edgar Payne, Will James and many others. Abe told me he thinks Bob McCubbin's original photographs in the magazine adds so much credibility to our efforts. Very true.
I don’t know if it’s the new issue, or the moon, or that time of the month, but we have been getting the weirdest and most wonderful correspondence. For example, this came in this morning, scribbled on the back of a reader service card:
“Mr. Bob Boze Bell, Paul Hutton wrote a factual article. Meghan Saar and Jana Bommersbach have a political propaganda to spread. Please fire these two. If it continues, I will cancel.”
—J.C., Northeast, Tennessee
JC also sent a second card:
“Mr. Bob Boze Bell, please stop Saar and Bommbersbach agenda—editorial articles. Besides they left out Bugs Bunny.”
Sam made sure the cards made the rounds in the office. Ten minutes ago, Robert Ray came into my office with a printout of an article that’s going in the January issue. It is a one-pager about Charlie Siringo, written by Meghan. Robert told me he thinks we need to be more specific in our slug heds [where the byline goes]. I looked closely and above Meghan’s name it said in a classic Old West type font: "Not a lesbian." I laughed ‘til I cried. Some staffers got worried because I said I wanted to actually put that in the column. Or, even better, we should put clarifiers on every name in the masthead. Gay. Not gay. Bi. Historically Sealed. You get the idea. It would be so helpful in this contentious age, don't you think?
Here’s a reader who’s upset about our holiday gift guide:"Well I see in the Nov/ Dec issue you people have joined the war against Christmas also. Shame on you, on page 55 you have the 2005 holiday gift guide, too bad, I give Christmas gifts so I can't buy a darn thing. Not once did I see where you wished your subscribers a Merry Christmas, too bad again, but I will wish YOU a Very Merry Christmas and I would bet that Doc, Morgan, Wyatt and Virgil would wish you a Merry Christmas also."
—A reader, Dale Reser, Eutawville,SC
And just when you think the anti-PC crowd is getting a tad obnoxious:
"I think it is too bad that you have to promote smoking just about every issue you have that c--t Honkytonk Sue with a cigarette either in her hand or mouth. I’m a non-smoker, and the kids think that it is gross. So I guess this will be my last magazine if she can’t talk without a fag hanging in her face."
—Bud, Dora, Missouri
Here’s a surprisingly benign missive:
"Can't wait to see your Brokeback Mountain coverage. I missed screenings of the film at Toronto but everyone was raving about it. I want to see it."
—A high ranking media person in New York
And a thoughtful one:
"It would be very petty of the Old West fraternity to read and think about only the history that is written the way they think it happened; even worse if they only read about what they wanted to have happened. .
"I don't know if you mentioned the movie release in this issue, but it might have smoothed things over a little. On the other hand, it might have made things worse! I have never heard of the movie or the actor. Guess I don't go to movies much. I sincerely hope that the staff resignations and one issue that has raised a ruckus does not decrease the editorial staff's desire to offer fresh new looks and discuss topics competitors wouldn't touch."
—Lucinda Parker, Las Vegas, Nevada
What does all this mean? I think the old vaqueros said it best:
"Seize opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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